Leeds United leave their fans not quite sure what to feel after 2-2 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion

If ever a match needed explaining properly on Match of the Day, it was Leeds United 2, Brighton and Hove Albion 2.

The emotions it stirred up were more complicated than a couple of silent minutes could convey.

If the evening highlights were a bit odd, so was the game itself.

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The full-time reaction said it all. Leeds supporters are usually pretty clear what they think of their club but when Saturday's match finished the strange response was in keeping with the football.

The Whites had taken a point against the team of this season but there was little elation.

They twice come from behind to draw and Brighton missed chances to bury them – not least through former Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck – but there was no obvious relief either.

Leeds showed the fight they will need as the bottom half of the Premier League descends into an unpredictable mass brawl. They scored more than in their last five matches combined yet their passivity turned groans into boos on occasion.

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But there were no discernible boos at the end. Maybe it was a grudging acceptance that tactics so far removed from the in-your-face football they could get behind under Marcelo Bielsa and even Jesse March worked – up to a point.

DECISIVE: Jack Harrison curls Leeds United's second equaliserDECISIVE: Jack Harrison curls Leeds United's second equaliser
DECISIVE: Jack Harrison curls Leeds United's second equaliser

With Bournemouth then Everton pulling off unexpected victories, Leeds went from uncomfortably squatting on the relegation trapdoor to 19th, crossing their fingers Southampton did not pull off another to send them bottom. They did not.

There was no great outpouring of anger at the approach or the too-often error-strewn football which saw Leeds concede a calamitously soft first goal then an own goal, no "sack the board" chants in frustration at the gloomy bigger picture.

Instead, Elland Road returned to the uncharacteristically subdued state Leeds' football tranquilised it into for the much of the first half. Supporters got off their feet, clapped, and headed for the exits.

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"We have to value the point," reflected Leeds coach Javi Gracia before adding: "At the same time we are really disappointed."

IMPROVISATION: Leeds United defender Luke Ayling flicks the ball towards the Brighton and Hove Albion goalIMPROVISATION: Leeds United defender Luke Ayling flicks the ball towards the Brighton and Hove Albion goal
IMPROVISATION: Leeds United defender Luke Ayling flicks the ball towards the Brighton and Hove Albion goal

With Rodrgio, Luis Sinisterra and Patrick Bamford – whose wonderful thumped goal injected life into the stadium – getting valuable minutes after injury, Gracia argued his squad would be better off for Saturday yet their position in the table is worse.

"We played a fantastic game," gushed Brighton coach Roberto de Zerbi. Asked how he thought his team performed when Elland Road was its usual self for the 21 minutes of football when the game was 1-1, he shot back: "Like lions."

Yet he apologised to Seagulls fans more than once, explaining: "This season (his first at the club) I've never suffered a result like today."

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It seemed Leeds' plan was to sacrifice their biggest asset – the crowd.

CANNY CAMEO: Willy Gnonto performed well off the bench for Leeds UnitedCANNY CAMEO: Willy Gnonto performed well off the bench for Leeds United
CANNY CAMEO: Willy Gnonto performed well off the bench for Leeds United

When the centre-backs and goalkeeper had the ball, Bamford and Brendan Aaronson stood off, waiting to see what they would do. Wingers Crysencio Summerville and Jack Harrison dropped alongside the central midfielders and did likewise. Brighton were in no hurry either.

At the other end the visitors almost played with two "false nines", Evan Ferguson and Alexis Mac Allister often deeper than the wingers.

Had the cat-and-mouse produced enough Leeds chances, fans would have swallowed it but too often they were sloppy in possession.

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Chief culprit Marc Rocca and Tyler Adams had shots blocked and Karou Mitoma tracked back well to stop Luke Ayling getting onto a Harrison cross but that was about it.

Leeds took standing off a step too far after 33 minutes. Solly March twisted and turned Roca then crossed for Mitoma. When he nodded it back, no one thought to get near Mac Allister, who headed in.

Soon the crowd was booing, not for the last time, as Leeds let the defenders play again.

It did not take much for Harrison and Bamford to change that. The winger won the ball off his full-back and Bamford smashed in off the bar.

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Elland Road turned from morgue to maelstrom. The players fed off the atmosphere and the fans off them.

Half-time did not deaden the mood. Two early Aaronson chances and Rodrigo warming up made scarves twirl and the volume rise.

But Leeds did not score.

Instead, 62 minutes in, Max Wober diverted a Mitoma cross goalwards and although Illan Meslier saved, he could not stop Harrison – running in with March – putting the rebound into his own net.

What a way to kill an atmosphere.

It was then de Zerbi felt Brighton should have won the game but Welbeck and co lacked ruthlessness.

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Given Harrison's performance it surprising he did not make way for the attacking substitutes but he was as switched on as Willy Gnonto was and Brighton's defenders were not when the Italian played a short corner for Harrison to curl a goal in.

To draw with a team as good as Brighton was important but Elland Road was not in party mood. Exactly what mood it was in was hard to say.

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Wober, Firpo; Summerville (Gnonto 66), Adams, Roca (McKennie 66); Harrison (Sinisterra 90), Bamford (Rodrigo 66), Aaronson (Rutter 84). Unused substitutes: Robles, Kristensen, Struijk, Greenwood.

Brighton and Hove Albion: Steele; Veltman, Webster (van Hecke 88), Dunk, Estupinan; March, Gross, Caicedo, Mitoma; Ferguson (Welbeck 68), Mac Allister. Unused substitutes: Sanchez, Colwill, Sarmiento, Enciso, Undav, Ayari, Buonanotte.

Referee: P Tierney (Wigan).